2017 became a landmark year in the world of inheritance disputes when Pilar Abel won her 10-year fight to exhume the body of artist Salvador Dali in an effort to prove she was his daughter through DNA testing. The case became yet another example of the lengths people are willing to go in order to receive a piece of an inheritance. As the United Kingdom reports, record numbers of inheritance disputes are being brought to the High Court. In the United States, inheritance disputes are also on the rise, with disagreements between stepmothers and stepchildren being reported as the cause of 50% of all inheritance disputes. Though numbers are rising and more trends are being reported, the United States and other countries have a history of long lasting inheritance disputes that occasionally outlive the combatants.

Brooke Astor Estate

Brooke Astor was a New York socialite known for her philanthropy and overall generosity.  During her life she gave millions to various charities and left behind a generous trust valued at $198 million to care for her children. In 2006, one year before Brooke passed away, she named her son Anthony Marshall executor of her estate and manager of her affairs. In a move that surprised many associated with the 105-year-old socialite, her grandson, Phillip, accused his father Anthony of abusing Brooke Astor and mismanaging her financial affairs. After Brooke passed away, an investigation was started with Anthony’s appointment as executor and the inheritance contested. The case is still ongoing, and Anthony faces multiple charges of forgeries and other crimes.

The Wang Estate

Shockingly, the Wang family underwent two major inheritance disputes that took years to resolve. In 1990, wealthy industrialist Teddy Wang was kidnapped in Hong Kong and even though a ransom was paid, the multi-billionaire was never seen again. Nine years after his kidnapping, Teddy Wang was declared dead and an inheritance battle began between Wang’s wife and father that lasted for half a year. Eventually, Mrs. Wang was awarded her husband’s fortune, making her the wealthiest woman in Hong Kong, but when she passed away in 2007, a new inheritance battle involving the Wang estate began. Multiple wills surfaced leaving the fortune to various people including Mrs. Wang’s feng shui consultant. The case is still in court with no clear heir to the over $4 billion fortune named.

Protecting Your Legacy

One of the hardest parts of estate planning is guessing what may happen after you pass away.  Even though it is impossible to know exactly what will occur, it is possible to anticipate some of the most common scenarios with the help of an estate planning attorney. A qualified attorney at MMZ Law can discuss your assets, your family dynamics, and work with you to determine the best way to distribute your assets. Our compassionate staff are here to help you during this difficult time so that you can make the decisions that are best for you. Contact our office in Claremont, California to schedule an initial consultation so that we can begin providing you with the legal advice you need today.



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.